Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI) is a type of bacterial infection that can affect one or more organs of the urinary system (bladder, ureters, kidney). The most common bacterium in UTI’s is E. Coli however this is not the only one. For some women, once they start the UTI cycle it becomes very difficult to break. I have seen women get infections on a monthly basis and this is not healthy.
The standard of care is treatment with antibiotics and this makes matters worse. Repeated antibiotic treatments causes antibiotic resistance and recurrent yeast infections. However, there is hope and I have clinically witness women go from monthly infections to one or two a year.
Signs and symptoms of a bladder infection:
1. Strong urge to urinate frequently and often
2. Painful, burning urination
3. Cloudy, bloody urine with a strong smell
4. Discomfort, pressure or bloating in lower abdomen
5. Pain in pelvic area or back
It is worth noting that some women may have these symptoms and think they have a bladder infection but in reality what they have is Interstitial cystitis (IC)/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS). This topic will be covered in a later blog. As a physician, I always do a dip stick test in addition to a looking under the microscope and doing a culture and sensitivity. This is the best way to distinguish between true recurrent UTI’s and IC/CPPS.
Probiotics: It is important to choose a good quality probiotic. There are many products on the market with little to no live bacteria. While eating yogurt is helpful, it is not enough as a preventative measure.
Cranberry capsules: Cranberry helps to prevent the bacteria from sticking to the inside of the bladder wall. If you have IC, cranberry may make your symptoms worse so proceed with caution.
Vitamin C: helps to keep the urine more acidic thereby preventing bacterial overgrowth. Some IC patients may find that Vitamin C makes their symptoms worse.
D – Mannose : this is a naturally occurring simple sugar that prevents E. Coli from sticking to the bladder wall. A high dose of D-Mannose can be tried over a 24 hour period prior to using antibiotics.
Hydration: it is important to drink lots of clean filtered water to help flush the bacteria out of the bladder.
Herbal remedies: Oil of oregano, Uva Ursi, Yarrow, Echinacea, Garlic, Goldenthread, Oregon Grape, Barberry and Goldenseal can all be useful for the treatment and prevention of a bladder infection.
Hygiene: since most women tend to have infections after intercourse, it is always a good idea to urinate right after having sex. Avoidance of tight-fitting pants will also help in the prevention of recurrent UTI’s. Choose cotton underwear instead of synthetics. Avoid scented products in your vaginal area. There is no need to make your private smell like a rose-bush. Avoid bath additives (ie bubble bath, scented oils etc). These products can be highly irritating to the vaginal area thus setting you up for recurrent infections.
The content in this blog is for educational purposes only. Please consult a naturopathic physician for a treatment plan if you think you have a UTI or if you are getting recurrent UTI’s.